I will never forget the Friday afternoon phone call I once received from my oldest son’s teacher. Michael was a child with a learning disability and resultant behavior problems. Previous phone calls from his teachers were not happy ones. So I was amazed and delighted to hear that Michael had done surprisingly well on a social studies project.

Appreciatively, I thanked his teacher for taking the time to convey the positive news. It was a call I never forgot.

A few years later, I was teaching English to some challenging classes at a large high school. Many of my students neglected to do their homework, and their test results were far from stellar. Trying to spark their interest, I decided to give them a different kind of assignment.

I told them to research a famous personality, dress up as that person, and deliver a short presentation, complete with a question-and-answer session from the class.

Most of the students enjoyed the challenge, and began to earnestly research their roles. One boy, named David, surprisingly selected Albert Einstein as his famous person. David, although not among the best and the brightest, somehow seemed to identify with the personality of Albert Einstein.

Wearing a white curly wig, David scribbled some indecipherable “formulae” on the blackboard before starting his presentation. His pseudo-Germanic accent made the class laugh, but he really knew Einstein’s character.

Truly impressed, I gave him an A for his presentation. David was thrilled with the first A he had received all year. But that was not enough. Giving David some well-deserved positive feedback was only part of my job.

Remembering the call I had received from my son’s teacher, I phoned David’s mother. I told her how pleased I was with his presentation and the effort he had put into it.

The woman was clearly shocked—and delighted.

“Thank you so much for calling and letting me know,” she said gratefully. “You’re the first teacher to tell me something good that David has done. You’ve made my day.”

I smiled, knowing exactly how she felt.